Heena shoots gold, claims Olympic quota

Pistol ace becomes ninth Indian to earn spot for Rio
Last Updated 27 January 2016, 17:35 IST

Heena Sidhu produced a composed performance to clinch gold in the women’s 10M air pistol event and along with it picked an Olympic quota place for India on the first day of the Asia qualifying shooting competition at the Dr Karni Singh range on Wednesday.

Heena’s win has taken India’s tally of Rio Olympic quotas to nine. The former world No 1’s Olympic dream was hinging on this last qualifying event. She had narrowly missed out on the final berth of last year’s World Cup in Korea, an Olympic qualifying event, and her gold winning effort at the Asian shooting championships in Kuwait, too, didn’t prove enough after the event was stripped of its Olympic qualifying status. If there were any nerves while shooting in front of the home crowd, the 26-year-old betrayed none.

In a controlled show Heena, despite a slow start, qualified with the best total of 387 and kept her focus during the 20-shot final. In fact, she lost the top place only once during the first series of shots before quickly claiming it back at the sixth shot mark. She rounded off her impressive performance with a final score of 199.4 points, with husband and coach Ronak Pandit watching from the sidelines. Chinese Taipei’s Tien Chia Chen (198.1 points) settled for silver while the bronze medal went to South Korea’s Gim Yun Mi (177.9 points).

“I’ve had so many near misses in the past, so it was very important to shoot on my level here. I knew I could win the quota place here. I’m happy about the gold medal and my score,” said Heena who won her third international gold medal in five months.

The women’s 10M air pistol final had two quota Olympic places on offer. However, four out of the eight finalists — Yun Mi of South Korea, Chinese Taipei’s Chen, Yu Ai Wen and Wu Chia Yin were not eligible for quota places, having already claimed one. Iran’s Golnoush Sebghatollahi, who finished fourth, grabbed the second Olympic quota place.

In the men’s 50M Rifle Prone, Korea’s London Olympics Silver medallist Kim Jong-hyun clinched the gold medal and an Olympic berth with a score of 206.3 in the finals. The second quota went to Thailand’s Attapon Vea Aree who won silver (206.1). South Korea’s Kim Hyeonjun claimed the third place (185.2).

In women's trap, Shreyasi Singh lost out in a shoot-off.  In a keenly contested final, Japan’s Yukie Nakayama beat China’s Li Qingnian after a tie-breaking shoot-off as both hit 12 of the regular 15 targets. However, since there was already a quota place earned by the Japanese shooter, Li was awarded the only Olympic slot available for this event.

Another Chinese, Chen Fang, settled for bronze. Meanwhile, London Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar was in seventh place after stage one of the men’s Rapid Fire Pistol event with a score of 285. Neeraj Kumar (279) and Harpreet Singh (278) were on 13th and 16th positions. The second stage and the final of the event are scheduled for Thursday.

(Published 27 January 2016, 17:35 IST)

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